Medieval Verse: The Viadera


March 14, 2014 by phicks2012

ctree2From Wikipedia at

The viadera (Catalan: [bi?’ðe??, via’ðe?a], Occitan: viadeira [bja’ðej??, viadej??]; also spelled viadeyra or viandela) was a lyric genre of Catalan and Occitan literature invented by the troubadours.

It was a dance song devised to lighten the burden of a long voyage or to enliven the trip. It was a popular as opposed to “high” form and only infrequently used by cultivated poets. According to the Catalan Cançoneret de Ripoll, it was la pus jusana spècies qui és en los cantàs (the most humble genre of song there is) and elsewhere it is called la més baixa espècie de cançons (the most base genre of song).

One of the more famous viadeyras was composed by Cerverí de Girona. It begins No.l prenatz lo fals marit (“Don’t take that false husband”) and is preserved in the Cançoner Gil. The theme of the song is that of a warning to a girl, either Jana delgada (delicate Joanna) or Na Delgada, a senhal (pet name) meaning “delicate lady”. The line jana delgada (read either as Jana delgada or ja, Na Delgada) is repeated after every two lines as a respos. The song has much in common with Galician-Portuguese cantigas de amigo.

As with several of the other Medieval forms I’ve checked out, this one does not seem to have had a distinctive or characteristic rhyme scheme or meter, but rather is identified mainly by it’s subject matter, which I must assume from descriptions to have been rather bawdy.

What follows is my attempt, written mainly for publication in our monthly SCA newsletter, to replicate, to some degree, this form. I hope that you enjoy it.

Viadera No.1: Sweet Lady be Wary

Of red-belted minions
With tongues dipped in honey!
Sweet Lady, be wary!
For not all are worthy
And not all have money!
Sweet Lady be wary!

Their swords will rise quickly
To amorous battle!
Sweet Lady be wary!
But shields are less ready
And words can be prattle!
Sweet Lady be wary!

Take care when they offer
A fair Queen to make you!
Sweet Lady be wary!
A Throne Room exalted
Tis not where they’ll take you!
Sweet Lady be wary!

Defend well your virtue
When they do come calling!
Sweet Lady be wary!
Lest out of your garments
You soon may be falling!
Sweet Lady be wary!

‘Ware vows that they make you
And dreams that they offer!
Sweet Lady be wary!
For cold iron gauntlets
Will not fill your coffer!
Sweet Lady be wary!

And while you find pleasure
In what they can give you,
Sweet Lady be wary!
The tales that they carry
These well might outlive you!
Sweet Lady be wary!

[29 December, 2013]

2 thoughts on “Medieval Verse: The Viadera

  1. John Dolan says:

    FANTASTIC! You do great work and have brought this form back to life! Modesty unnecessary! Thank you!

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March 2014


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